Rule is: PINK for girls and BLUE for boys. We have made certain molds for men and women in the society. “All men love sports and are callous”; “all women are bad drivers, love shopping and are too poignant”. Additionally, we have seen people telling their sons to stop ‘crying like a girl’, ‘acting like a girl’. Ever wondered what do these people mean by ‘being like a girl’? Well, people articulating such words provide a secondary status for women in the society. According to them, women are weak-emotionally, socially, psychologically and physically, they think strong and tough tasks are not made for women. This standardizing starts as soon as the gender of the child is known. If it’s a boy, consciously or unconsciously the joy of protraction of family race is celebrated; his room is painted in blue with sporty stuff like cars, bikes, video games and superheroes. If it’s a girl, her room is painted in pink decorated with all the rosy things around – butterflies, flowers. The cornerstone of being a ‘perfect girl’ is laid in her from the start.
Children are brought up in an environment where the boys are taught that other sex is physically and mentally weak. They are taught to act and feel strong and to hide or suppress their real feelings as it is a very ‘girlish’ thing to do.
Few months back, a Chennai engineering college containing rules and ethical codes for ‘girls students’ went viral and it had 14 big ‘NOs’ for girl students. Such examples are pulling back our society. Moreover, the prejudices are not cramped to the four walls of class but are knowingly present in the field of sports as well. If a girl exhibits audacious traits, people get extremely traumatized because such things are meant only for boys. Whenever we are asked to imagine a girl running we start imagining the girl flailing her arms round and legs awkwardly.
Media and cinema are the mirrors of our society. Media fortifies the position of women as acquiescent beings. It has a great impact on the idiosyncratic lives of the audience. A dialogue from a bollywood movie, “Mard ko dard nahi hota” aggrandizes the stature of men as godlike figures. These movies celebrate men in the roles of alpha males. A dialogue like “akeli ladki khuli hui tijori ki tarah hoti hai” objectifies women as sexual objects in Indian cinema, a commodity to own. Women are pigeonholed as the number two. Media plays an important role in affecting the mentality and thinking of the people. The patriarchal rules suppress women in the society.
When media, on one hand supports gender stereotyping, there are few who are smashing it. Bollywood, albeit in small steps, is bespeaking a change with multi-layered cinema. Directors like Zoya Akhtar and Shoojit Sircar are there to name a few.
Director Zoya akhtar in ‘Zindagi nah milegi dobara’ depicts Katrina and Kalki as strong, smart, independent and confident characters. Director Shoojit sircar’s latest release ‘Pink’ too depicts the three protagonists as strong-willed characters who fought against bigotry.
Many campaigns and activities were initiated to break the gender stereotypes. An online matrimony service ‘truly-madly’ launched a campaign #breakingstereotypes to break the clutter associated with common stereotypes. The campaign was immensely applauded with overwhelming responses from audience like,”I’m a man and I love to cook”, “I love shopping but my dad is not my atm”. ‘Always’, a brand of Procter and Gamble, is world’s leader in feminine protection. In the year 2014 a new advertisement campaign gained much popularity among masses. The theme of the video was “unstoppable”. It featured males, teenage females and prepubescent girls who were asked to run, hit or throw like a girl. The males and females did a deplorable attempt to do the tasks. Girls are asked to limit themselves and their confidence starts plummeting as they grow up.. Run as a girl means run as fast as you can and it does not matter what people say, if you are growing, scoring then you are doing it right. That’s exactly what the Rio Olympics 2016 medalists have done. PV sindhu, Dipa karmakar and Sakshi malik’s talent, hard work and dedication dedication spoke for them.
Being ‘girly’ is the worst crime a child can commit now. We have the un-stereotyped abilities in ourselves which have not yet discovered. We need to rewrite our rules.